Michael Cuscuna, Grammy-Winning Jazz Producer and Mosaic Records Co-Founder, Dies at 75

Michael Cuscuna, a three-time Grammy winning jazz producer and the co-founder of Mosaic Records, has died. He was 75.

His death was confirmed on Monday by the record label Blue Note, for whom he produced reissues and studio sessions. He did the same for numerous other labels including Impulse, Atlantic, Arista, Freedom, Novus, Muse and Elektra.

More from Variety

Cuscuna died April 20 of cancer at his home in Stamford, Connecticut, according to Grammy-winning recording artist Billy Vera, Cuscana’s longtime friend and collaborator.

Cuscuna was born in Stamford on September 20, 1948. After mastering the drums, saxophone and flute as a teenager, he took on numerous roles across the music industry: he was a progressive rock deejay (at New York’s WXPN and later WABC-FM, as well as Philadelphia’s WMMR), music journalist and had a grasp on music history which led him to write liner notes for albums by Buddy Guy, Chris Smither, Ken Nordine, and Bonnie Raitt.

Cuscuna’s biggest projects, commercially, range from the 1970 album “Buddy & the Juniors,” featuring Buddy Guy, Junior Wells and Junior Mance, to Bonnie Raitt’s 1972 album, “Give It Up.”

He began Mosaic Records in 1982 with Charlie Lourie, a former CBS executive and Blue Note’s new head of marketing. Cuscana was said to have got the idea for Mosaic in the early 1980s when he discovered twenty-eight minutes of unreleased Thelonious Monk material from his Blue Note years, which led to him producing “The Complete Blue Note Recordings of Thelonious Monk” as Mosaic’s debut, per a 2013 interview with Esquire.

“It is not easy to bid farewell to a best friend, knowing that it’s a final goodbye,” Blue Note wrote on their socials. “Michael Cuscuna was one of the best friends this music has had.”

Cuscuna is survived by his wife, Lisa, children Max and Lauren and grandchildren Nicolas and Penelope.

Best of Variety

Sign up for Variety’s Newsletter. For the latest news, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.